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Best gaming keyboards 2020

best gaming keyboard
(Image credit: Corsair)

If you're looking to maximise your PC setup, getting hold of the best gaming keyboard should be a high priority. Besides improving your performance in games via programmable keys and increased responsiveness, they're a delight to type with and look rad as hell too. Have a go on a mechanical deck to see what we mean.

What's the best gaming keyboard for you, though? It all begins by figuring out whether you want a mechanical or membrane device. If you've got no idea what the difference is, don't worry - let us explain. 

The majority of 'normal' keyboards are membrane ones, and their keys sit on a single rubber strip. Pushing them presses down on this strip. That's why these keyboards feel a bit 'squishy' to use. Even though that means they're not as accurate, they are quieter as a result (and a fair bit cheaper). 

At the other end of the scale are mechanical units. Each key has an individual mechanism (or 'switch') that allows for greater accuracy and speed. They also provide a tactile bump when pressed alongside a cool 'click' sound like a typewriter. As a result, they tend to be more expensive but are arguably superior. 

You'll find both kinds in our list below, and they'd all make a good companion to the best gaming mouse.

Best gaming keyboards

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(Image credit: Corsair)
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1. Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT

The best overall gaming keyboard

Type: Mechanical (wired) | Size: Full | Features: 6 dedicated macro keys, customizable RGB, detachable wrist rest, bonus keycaps

Excellent build-quality
Aircraft-grade aluminium frame
Large, comfortable wrist rest
Expensive

For the PC gamer that wants it all, Corsair's new K95 RGB Platinum XT is the only choice. A handsome, luxurious design joins forces with satisfying clicks for one of the best gaming keyboards around. Yes, it's expensive. But this is a phenomenal piece of kit that won't let you down. This is the best of the best and worth every penny - a truly top-tier gaming keyboard.

It has all the trimmings, too. As well as dedicated media controls and USB passthrough,  the Platinum XT's got gorgeous RGB lighting, 6 dedicated macro keys, and a comfortable faux-leather wrist rest. A textured spacebar and alternate WASD caps build on that sense of luxury. 

However, it's the tactile feel of pressing a key that will win you over. Unlike the older K95 models, these keycaps have been replaced with ‘Double Shot’ keys. Those are built from two layers of colored plastic for a distinctly premium typing sensation, not to mention durability. 

Read more: Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT review

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(Image credit: Razer)
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2. Razer Cynosa Chroma

The best budget gaming keyboard

Type: Membrane (wired) | Size: Full | Features: Per-key RGB lighting

Feels great to type on
Quiet membrane keys
Affordable
Some keys can sound 'squeaky'

Gaming keyboards are an essential purchase if you play on PC, but they'll often break the bank. That's why the Razer Cynosa Chroma is a godsend. Although it's not the best gaming keyboard on offer, it still puts in a very respectable performance at an affordable price.

As a 'membrane' keyboard, the Cynosa Chroma is also much quieter than the competition. That's because its keys are pressing down on a rubbery sheet, meaning you don't get the distracting typewriter 'clack' of mechanical decks. That makes it perfect in a busy household or at work where you don't want to cause too much noise.

It puts in a good performance, too. The smooth rubber keycaps are satisfying to type with, macro settings allow you to program each key, and its smaller footprint means you won't have trouble fitting it on your desk. What's more, RGB lighting adds a pop of color to a slightly plain black shell.

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3. Razer Huntsman Elite

The fastest gaming keyboard

Type: Mechanical (wired) | Size: Full | Features: Dedicated media keys, opto-mechanical switches, customizable RGB, soft and detachable wrist rest

Opto-mechanical switches eliminate delay
Plush leatherette wrist rest
No USB passthrough or macros
Pricey

The Razer Huntsman family is the only set of keyboards to feature Razer's excellent opto-mechanical switches. Why is that important? Because they blend the tactile, 'clicky' feel of a standard mechanical switch with optical actuation via lasers. 

Basically, actuation delay (the time it takes for a key-press to be registered) is almost entirely eliminated as a result. Rather than pressing down on a switch that sends a signal to your computer, the Huntsman Elite's keys register the moment they touch a laser beam. It's so much faster, and striking a key multiple times or frantically spamming it is dead easy. This technology also reduces the gap between the actuation and reset point to almost 0mm.

Quality-of-life touches help the Huntsman further its claim as the best gaming keyboard. That includes the memory foam wrist rest and a digital dial which allows you to adjust brightness, volume, and other settings. Yes, it's expensive as a result. However, this keyboard is home to some of the best switches and features we've ever tested. 

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4. SteelSeries Apex 5

The best mid-range gaming keyboard

Type: Mechanical (wired) | Size: Full | Features: OLED smart display, hybrid mechanical keys, dedicated volume control, customizable RGB, detachable magnetic wrist rest

Soft matte key caps
Tactile and responsive
Powerful software
OLED display is under-used

SteelSeries is well known for its excellent keyboards, but the best of them are pricey. That's where the Apex 5 swoops in. It offers a stripped back version of everything that makes the expensive models great - namely a slimline design, snappy actuation, and an OLED smart display in the upper right-hand corner. The latter is underused, but it's a cool touch nonetheless.

Although this model doesn't have customisable per-key actuation like the Apex Pro, it's still satisfying to use as well. Its linear keys only require the smallest amount of pressure to actuate, and the build quality never feels sloppy. In fact, your fingers will be flying across the deck once you're used to its sensitivity. What's more, the matte keys are pleasingly soft to the touch. It's a memorable experience.

All this exudes the patented SteelSeries quality - and for much less than normal. At this modest price point, the Apex 5 is superb value for money.

Read more: SteelSeries Apex 5 review

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5. HyperX Alloy FPS RGB

The best gaming keyboard for shooters

Type: Mechanical (wired) | Size: Full | Features: Solid-steel frame, customizable RGB, USB passthrough

Bouncy, responsive keys
Compact design
USB passthrough/charger
A magnet for dust

There have been a glut of shooter-focused keyboards over the last year or so - from Razer, ROG, and beyond - but this is the best of them all. Despite a relatively sparse appearance, the HyperX Alloy FPS RGB makes up for it with exceptional performance. It's a fantastic gaming keyboard for those who play competitive shooters like Apex Legends or Call of Duty: Warzone.

What makes it such a winner for FPS games? As a compact and portable device, everything is within easy reach so you're not stretching to hit keys like the left shift. Secondly, its Kailh Silver Speed switches are both responsive and satisfying to use. They're bouncy enough that your fingers will fly from key to key. 

A reasonable price and USB passthrough for charging your phone seals the deal. This is a versatile bit of tech with no wasted parts. Even though it's not flashy, the Alloy FPS RGB phenomenal at what it does.

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6. Roccat Vulcan 121 AIMO

The best keyboard for typing

Type: Mechanical (wired) | Size: Full | Features: Durable aluminium frame, detachable wrist rest, dedicated media controls, customizable RGB

Great mechanical switches for typing
Durable
Drop-dead gorgeous lighting and design
Wrist rest isn't very useful

The Roccat Vulcan 121 AIMO is a keyboard that turns heads. It's absolutely gorgeous to look at thanks to its durable aluminium frame, exposed key stems, and vibrant RGB lighting. Much like the original Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO, our test-copy consistently drew compliments whenever anyone saw it on our desk.  

It's not just a pretty face, either. The Vulcan 121's performance is every bit as good. While the bottom row's unusual convex shape won't suit everyone, we found this deck to be comfortable, reliable, and satisfying to use. It particularly shines for typing. Its switches provide a pleasant click (with the Cherry Red variety, anyway) and tactile bump with each press. Meanwhile, those exposed stems give it an air of a ye-olden-days typewriter. That special, transparent housing minimises wobble, too.

What's more, its Titan switches actuate between 20-30% faster "than standard" depending on the version you go for. That makes it a great companion for the equally quick Roccat Kain 120 AIMO mouse. Throw in an easy-clean design to avoid dust buildup and you're left with something special.

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7. Corsair K57 RGB Wireless

The best membrane gaming keyboard

Type: Membrane (wireless, wired, Bluetooth) | Size: Full | Features: Six dedicated macro keys, dedicated media controls, detachable wrist rest, customizable RGB

Quiet keys
Plenty of features
RGB up to 60% brighter
Lacks USB passthrough

Even though mechanical options take the lion's share of attention when it comes to the best gaming keyboards, membrane alternatives are still worth considering. For starters, they're much quieter. Secondly, they're often a lot cheaper. And you know what? They're still excellent.

The Corsair K57 RGB Wireless is one of the best we've tried. Comfortable, tactile, and reliable, it proves that you don't need mechanical switches to impress. It'll also light up any room with LEDs that are potentially 60% brighter than the competition.

That isn't what makes this deck stand out, though (well, in anything other than a literal sense). Its membrane keys are almost as satisfying to use as mechanical ones, and they don't have the noisy 'click' of the latter. Additionally, the K57 has all the features - dedicated media controls, wireless functionality, and macro keys - of a much more expensive keyboard. It's a winner.

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8. SteelSeries Apex Pro

The best gaming keyboard for esports

Type: Mechanical (wired) | Size: Full | Features: Per-key actuation, OLED smart display, aircraft-grade aluminium alloy, USB passthrough, customizable RGB

Per-key actuation
Cool OLED screen
Tenkeyless version available
Switches aren't as satisfying

Built around the ability to set actuation individually per key, this offering from SteelSeries is perfect for esports players who want to customise their experience. Need faster, more responsive keys for the likes of Fortnite? Would you prefer a slower and more deliberate action instead? The Apex Pro is able to deliver on both, and anywhere in-between. 

As a neat bonus, the Apex Pro has a little OLED screen in the top right-hand corner as well. This lets you fiddle with media controls or certain actuation settings. As a cool touch, it can even show off gifs. None of which is necessary by any means, but it's a really fun addition nonetheless. 

If you'd prefer a more compact version, there's also a tenkeyless alternative for sale. Having options is always welcome, and the Apex Pro comes up trumps in that regard.

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9. Alienware 510K

The best low profile gaming keyboard

Type: Mechanical (wired) | Size: Full | Features: Low profile, ergonomic floating-key architecture, USB passthrough, customizable RGB, dedicated volume scroller

Bouncy, responsive keys
Low profile
USB passthrough
A bit plain

The 510K isn't much to look at, but any criticisms about that appearance melt away the moment you get your hands on it. Those low profile Cherry MX Red switches are a delight to use, offering a lively bounce thanks to less travel time and low actuation force. 

This allows your fingers to jump from key to key without much effort at all, resulting in a satisfying flow when typing or gaming. It's a worthy contender for the title of 'best gaming keyboard' as a result, and it'll exceed expectations in everything from shooters to strategy epics.

The subtle design makes this Alienware deck a great choice for office use, too. In spite of sci-fi sensibilities that give it a futuristic air, it lacks obnoxious RGB lighting or sharp, 'edgy' angles. That makes it a good stablemate for the Alienware 610M mouse and the Alienware Aurora R9 PC - it was designed to be used in tandem with both of them.

Read more: Alienware 510K review

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10. Corsair K63 Wireless

The best wireless gaming keyboard

Type: Mechanical (wireless) | Size: Tenkeyless | Features: Wireless capabilities, tenkeyless, detachable wrist-rest, dedicated media keys, RGB

Satisfying to use
Compact
Reliable brand
Short battery life

Alright, so it isn't normally the best idea to go wireless when it comes to keyboards.  The potential for latency between key-presses and action rises without a wire to ferry your signal. But if you do? Corsair's K63 Wireless is the deck to pick up. 

The reason is simple - it works as well as, or better than, a lot of its wired competitors. Its Cherry MX Red switches are just as satisfying to use as they are on wired keyboards, while USB passthrough and the dedicated media controls help round out a respectable feature-set. In addition, it's rather handsome. The backlight is a calming shade of blue (though the keyboard's battery life will last around 50 hours longer if those RGB lights are switched off), and its frame is constructed from anodized brushed aluminum. The K63 is a looker.

Being tenkeyless means it's much more compact, too. In fact, there isn't a better choice if you want a wireless mechanical keyboard that doesn't take up much room.

How we test gaming keyboards

When we recommend a gaming keyboard, it's because we enjoyed using it ourselves. Our reviewers also test products thoroughly to make sure they surpasses a certain threshold of excellence - we like to spend at least a few days with every keyboard as the full-time replacement for our current decks. That involves stress-testing it with games and through several days at the GamesRadar+ office.

For more details, check out our feature on how we test gaming keyboards.

As a staff writer for our Hardware team, Benjamin looks after many of the buying guides, board game features, deals, and tech reviews you’ll see on GamesRadar+.